Kristin MichelitchKristin Michelitch

Department of Political Science
New York University
Kellogg Institute Visiting Fellow
University of Notre Dame
"Good Morning Timbuktu! The Impact of Radio on Democratic Agency in Rural Islamic Africa"
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
12:30 pm - C103 Hesburgh Center

Historically, traditional elites in rural Islamic Africa—village chiefs and imams—have acted as information gatekeepers, disseminating information from outside the village to villagers through oral communication infrastructure. Using their power, traditional elites have been known to dictate or influence villagers' political opinions and behaviors. Women and low-status men face additional opinion gatekeeping from male clan heads, who almost exclusively interface between the traditional elites and the family. This study investigates the potential role of radio access in emancipating women and low-status men to form capable agents of democracy. Set in villages between Mopti and Timbuktu in Northern Mali, we randomly assign individuals to receive either a solar, crank radio or a flashlight. We find that.... [come to the talk!]

Kristin Michelitch (PhD, New York University), who will spend the academic year at the Kellogg Institute, investigates the major catalysts that improve the quality of democratic processes and quicken the pace of human development in Africa. Partnering with local NGOs and aid donors, she is evaluating the role of information communication technologies in several ongoing projects.

At Kellogg, Michelitch will collaborate with Faculty Fellow Jaimie Bleck on “Good Morning Timbuktu! The Impact of Radio in Rural Islamic Africa,” which utilizes a field experiment in Mali to ascertain whether access to radio via a radio distribution program can emancipate ordinary citizens’ political behavior from traditional elites such as village chiefs and imams. Other joint projects focus on public opinion vis-à-vis the insurgent rebellion and recent coups, as well as female circumcision.

Michelitch is also conducting field experimental investigations of two programs aimed at improving the political accountability of local government in Uganda: “311” texting to report public service deficiencies and the dissemination of politician scorecards. Her previous research in Ghana found that electoral competition exacerbates citizen-level discrimination based on partisanship in everyday economic activities.

While at Notre Dame, Michelitch will teach a political science course.